Rocky Mountain /R/oad Trip

Long overdue for a break from my day job, I took a 4-day weekend to visit friends in the Denver area. And, thanks to the good folks over at /r/Denver I had a plethora of ghosts to chase down. Weather worked against me a little, but I worked against me more. I mis-timed arrivals, couldn’t find landmarks, left needed filters in the car, and just generally avoided finding my groove. Fortunately, Colorado’s a beautiful place, so it’s virtually impossible to come away empty handed.

The advantage of nature and travel photography is that even on days when you get it wrong, you’re still amidst nature and enjoying travel. If nothing else, it’s research for next time. Not a bad way to spend time….


Day 1  was a calm one: lunch with Brian’s in-laws (great guys!), coffee with Brian, Tracy, and new friend Kristen, and then a barbecue with more in-laws to celebrate a birthday.

Day 2 found Brian and me on the hunt for the ruins of abandoned mines, but alas, we were skunked. On the way up to the city of Idaho Springs we happened across the grave of Western icon Buffalo Bill Cody. Three thoughts came away with me:

  1. His grave was not particularly attractive as graves go.
  2. “He was a Free Mason, really?”
  3. It felt odd in this day and age to read on his grave that he was an Indian fighter. What a different world we live in.

As mentioned, we didn’t find much in Idaho Springs to photograph (besides touristy ruins), primarily because I did far less research than I normally do on an area. Fortunately, Brian introduced me to a pizza parlor that gives you honey with which to dip your leftover crust. Oh, and we also found this waterwheel and waterfall across the street, so that’s cool.

On the last day of my trip, we went to a Renaissance Fair not too far from the house. I found this guy on display at a booth for Colorado’s predatory birds.

The Idaho Springs graveyard: difficult place to drive a wide vehicle; lovely place to spend eternity.
We headed south to try and catch sunset at the ruins of the Castlewood Dam, which burst in 1933. Alas, we started the hike from the wrong spot so we didn’t make it to the dam. However, we did enjoy hiking along the bottom of beautiful Castlewood Canyon.

Day 3 found us in the neat little town of Estes Park before heading into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). This place is a real gem, so if you haven’t been I’d encourage you to go. Elk (?) are quite abundant throughout, and I spent some time stalking them. Here, a group enjoys an evening snack.

One of my favorite subjects is moving water, whether it be at the beach or in the form of a waterfall. High on my list of targets was Alberta Falls, near Bear Lake in RMNP. We got there late and the still abundant amount of snow on the trail made it a race to beat sunset. In my rush to get the shot I didn’t notice the copious amounts of mist on the lens, dust on the sensor, and the vignette resulting from stacking filters. It also didn’t help that the exposure is too dark! This is a junk shot, but it was a lovely hike and a nice way to end the evening, so I present it anyway in all its junk glory. :)
Whilst walking around the Renaissance Fair looking for subjects I paused at the numerous shows. The performers and guest in the foreground were supposed to be the real focus of the show. However, the little one in the back (did she belong to the performers?) caught my eye as she repeatedly wrapped herself in the banner and tried to stay out of trouble. How rad are the red and zebra-striped tights?

I enjoy shooting architecture as well, although I didn’t have much time on this trip. One of the shots I did want, based on recommendations from Reddit, was the skyscraper at 1999 Broadway. A desire to retain the historic Holy Ghost Catholic Church resulted in the office building going up mere feet from the church.

I wanted a high angle of the buildings, so Brian and I scouted out nearby parking structures. To get this photo, I had to climb up and stand one-legged on the skinny outer wall of a structure, some 7-stories up, and then shove my camera through railing. I was less afraid of falling than I was of someone calling the police on me as a jumper, so I climbed down post haste. An unintended consequence of shooting through the rails was a sort of fake tilt-shift effect that I didn’t notice until I got home.

Note the tiny little church just to the right of the center tower.

Here it is from a different angle. Even from this side you can’t really appreciate how close together the two buildings are.

Bear Lake. It occurred to me just now that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a frozen lake. Weird.

Local, RMNP.

Castlewood Canyon again. 

I wasn’t expecting snow on this trip, and there was still a lot of it throughout RMNP. We found this guy hanging out at around 11,000 feet at the Forest Canyon overlook.

My good friends Tracy and Brian, who put me up (and put up with me!) for four days.

Finally, another shot from Castlewood Canyon. Bloody ‘ell is that place great for photography. I’m looking forward to another trip, which will definitely need to be longer.

One Response to Rocky Mountain /R/oad Trip

  1. Bobby June 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Brian looks really manly. I guess Colorado will do that to a guy :)

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